SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – Chileans got the first chance Thursday to see Hollywood's movie about the 33 miners who captured the world's attention by surviving trapped deep underground longer than anyone before.
"The 33" was released in Chile a day after the fifth anniversary of the mine collapse. Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and French actress Juliette Binoche star in the film that dramatizes the disaster in the Atacama desert and the miners' globally televised rescue.
As the movie credits rolled at a movie theater in Santiago, Alejandro Harriet and his young sons Diego and Juan began clapping.
"It's now my favorite movie because this was a real story and it was done here in Chile," Diego said.
Banderas stars as Mario Sepulveda, nicknamed "Super Mario," who became the public face of the miners. Binoche plays Maria Segovia, the sister of a miner who became known for her outgoing personality as "the mayor" of the makeshift settlement that rose outside the mine.
"Millions of people, and I include myself, were glued to the TV following this story as these men held to the rocks inside that mine for nearly 70 days with the only dream of getting to see sunlight again," Banderas said last year during a visit to Chile.
Sepulveda, who was thrilled to have Banderas play him, has expressed hope the film will remind people that life is the most valuable gift.
The miners said it felt like an earthquake when the shaft caved in above them on Aug. 5, 2010, filling the lower corridors of the mine with dust. For more than two weeks no one above knew the men had survived. They stretched a meager 48-hour store of emergency food for 17 days, eating capsules of tuna and sips of expired milk while a narrow shaft was drilled down to their haven and the world learned they were alive.
The small emergency shaft allowed food and water to be lowered to the miners while rescuers drilled a bigger escape hole. Finally, 69 days later, in the early hours of Oct. 13, the miners were hauled up one-by-one in a cage through 2,000 feet of rock.
They were welcomed like heroes. But later, many ran out of money and had to eke out livings in the shantytowns of the desert city of Copiapo. Some began suffering health and psychological problems.
The cave-in raised questions about the mine's safety record and put Chile's top industry under close scrutiny. But the inquiry into the disaster ended in 2013 with no charges filed.
"The 33" was directed by Patricia Riggen and shot on location in Chile and at a mine in Colombia. It will be released in the U.S. on Nov. 13.